The History of Kombucha Ancient Origins Watercolor Image

The History of Kombucha: Ancient Origins for Healing Today

Kombucha has a rich and storied history, filled with mystery, legend, and a delicious, invigorating bite. Today, you can find kombucha in your local natural grocer, supermarket, and most stores. But how? 

Kombucha’s Royal Beginnings 

During the Qin Dynasty, in the ancient kingdom of China, a legendary drink called kombucha was first created circa 221 BCE. Made from sweetened tea fermented with a seemingly magical culture of yeast and bacteria, kombucha was said to possess the power of immortality. Today, you can find kombucha in your local natural grocer, supermarket, and most convenience stores. But how? 

It was said that the great Emperor Qin Shi Huang, who ruled over China during the 3rd century BCE, discovered the secrets of kombucha and used it to maintain his youthful vigor and longevity. Legend tells that the Emperor was so enamored with the powers of kombucha that he ordered it to be consumed throughout his kingdom by all its citizens. It became known as “The Tea of Immortality” and the “Immortal Health Elixir” inside—and outside—the kingdom.  

History of Kombucha in ancient kingdom of China

Kombucha is first mentioned in ancient Chinese texts, including the "Records of the Three Kingdoms," a historical text written in the 3rd century CE. The text describes kombucha as a "divine tsche," or "divine tea," and credits it with many medicinal properties. Kombucha is also mentioned in the "Compendium of Materia Medica," a Chinese medical text written in the 16th century CE that, again, lists several health benefits associated with its consumption, including improving digestion and boosting the immune system. 

Kombucha Knows No Boundary

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As the centuries passed, kombucha spread beyond the borders of China by force and will, carried along the Silk Road for sale and trade by merchants and travelers. It became a household staple in Japan and Korea, where it was known as the "kocha kinoko," or "tea mushroom," and “chungjin-cha,” or "golden tea," respectively. Kombucha was handcrafted in family kitchens and kombucha’s simple, but powerful recipe was passed from family to family to support overall health and immunity.  

From East Asia, it spread most notably to Russia where kombucha is mentioned in several ancient Russian texts. Kombucha is known as "chaynyy grib," or "tea mushroom," in Russia, and has been consumed in the country for centuries. One of the earliest written references to kombucha in Russia comes from the "Domostroi," a 16th-century Russian household management manual. The manual includes a recipe for kombucha, used to treat various ailments, including indigestion and fatigue. 

Kombucha, Now

History of Kombucha Tea of Immortality watercolor graphic

It wasn’t until the 20th Century that North America began its own journey with kombucha. But, like before, it spread from family to family, kitchen to kitchen. Then, in 1995, GT Dave offered North America its first taste of a kombucha that you could find on store shelves. GT’s Living Foods began brewing kombucha with the goal of preserving, protecting, and honoring the ancient tradition that makes the once-known Tea of Immortality so incredibly special. GT Dave and GT’s Living Foods continue to be instrumental in introducing the many healing benefits of kombucha to homes across North America and worldwide.  

To this day, GT’s kombucha is fermented in 5-gallon small batches, just as one might have centuries ago—and exactly like GT first crafted kombucha in his family home. Only now, instead of a few jars at a time, GT's handcrafts them by the thousands. “I started making kombucha based on the belief that it could improve people’s lives—and make the world a better place. Every batch I brew is a living reminder of this purpose,” says GT. 

Kombucha Into the Future

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In the modern world, the legend of kombucha has endured—a legend so real, you can taste it. Kombucha has become one of the most popular health drinks available, and it is enjoyed by people all over the world as a welcome alternative to sodas and juices for its refreshing taste and legendary health benefits. Some say, like those who first created it in 221 BCE, that kombucha holds the secret to eternal youth while others believe it merely has magical healing powers.  

Today, we know that no matter what you believe, it is certain that kombucha has a rich and storied history, filled with mystery, legend, and a delicious, invigorating bite. Most importantly, kombucha’s benefits have stood the test of time. So why not give kombucha a try and see if the magic of the "Immortal Health Elixir" can work wonders for you? 


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